Here is an example of what makes Marion Cross School special: the school-wide sugaring program run by LEEEP coordinator Lindsay Putnam. The Marion Cross PTO recently awarded a grant for MCS to build a sugarhouse. What the PTO found compelling about the grant request was how special and unique the program is, said co-chair of the PTO Susan Simmers at the April Norwich School Board meeting.
Sugaring has science behind it, but also history and magic too. It is part of being a Vermonter Here is Ms. Putnam’s description of the program:
All classes participate. We learn about and review: Tree ID, Photosynthesis, Native American stories and myths, temperature, pressure, song, physical properties of sap, water and clouds (steam).
However, really we are absorbing the process. To experience sugaring, as a Vermont kid, is not something that should be analyzed in terms of learning objectives. It is part of who we are, as Vermonters. It is part of the Vermont soul. It is about appreciating the maple tree; learning how to call them by name - not by analyzing, but by simply “knowing”; it is about working really hard for a fully appreciated result (sap buckets are heavy, especially in the deep snow); it is about teamwork and good aim and sore muscles; it is about warm steam on a cold day; and sweet sap after your hard work; and even more delicious warm syrup at the end of it all. It is a full sensory experience, a cultural experience, an experience of becoming a Vermont kid, that no one ever forgets. We work together to drill and pound spigots and hang buckets. We work together to pour the sap into the pails and lug them all the way to the sugaring tent. We sit around the evaporator and drink the sap and “toast” the maple trees. We tell Abenaki stories about how The People discovered maple syrup and how the trees and the birds work together to help each other. We sing old Vermont and Quebecois songs about the sweetness of sugaring. We talk about the science of sugaring, but the real focus is on the experience. We are becoming part of the season.
We sugar as classes, as an upper grade elective, as families on weekends and after school. Students gather in the sugaring tent at recess and after school. We culminate the season with “sugaring-off day”, when everyone in their classrooms enjoys some syrup, usually with the help of volunteer parents who bring in something to go with - pancakes, ice cream, biscuits. We love sugaring!
Syrup pouring over biscuits & butter! Source: Marion Cross PTO Facebook page